I first posted this on August 04, 2010. It has been almost a year since then, and the Dodgers just finished dropping two out of three to the Giants to end even the faintest of championship hopes. I think the contrasts are even starker today. Since August of last year, the Giants of Harmon and Sue Burns are Champs, and the Dodgers of Frank and Jamie McCourt are in last place. And they are bankrupt in every sense of the word; competitively, ethically and financially. Even the shallowest of Angelinos have had enough. Vin Scully and Donny Baseball deserve better. Not too much though. After-all, it is LA.
Farewell And Jonathan Sanchez’ Nixter
Last night, Jonathan Sanchez, scattered 3 hits in shutting out the Colorado Rockies. This following a three-game sweep of Los Angeles. A year and days after he threw his no hitter against the Padres. It got me to thinking about that no-hitter and the events around it. An empty seat in the owners section where Sue and her late husband Harmon Burns used to sit. Sue Burns’ battle with cancer was wearing her down at the end; too ill to come to the park that night. She passed away on July 26, two weeks after Sanchez’ no-hitter–barely enough time to say farewell to her legions of friends, family, and fellow Giants.
Sue Burns – Best of The Best
We don’t often think of women when referring to teammates. But Sue Burns was truly a Giant. The ultimate team mom. Those who played little league right on up through college ball and the low minors all have numerous and great memories of "team moms." The rides to and from practice and games. Win or lose, there was always a hug, a smile and a "you’ll get ‘em next time" from Team Mom.
Team Mom – A Man Simply Cannot Do This
Even in the low minors where young players are housed with willing families, it is the team mom who helps keep the homesick blues away from young players away from home for the first time and thrust into the cut-throat world of professional sports. We simply do not hear enough about them. Their stories are too droll by today’s standards of slam-bam, 24-hour celebrity news cycles. Sue Burns was the exception. She was Barry Bonds best friend when he had no friends. Thats what team moms do. They befriend the friendless, comfort the disturbed, and like the unlikable. Team Moms accept us for who we are. No matter what.
A Thousand Words Figuratively Speaking
If ever a picture were worth a thousand words, this is it. The late Sue Burns, San Francisco Giants principal owner and team mom. Former school teacher. This is what was written about her by Jim Doyle, at the Chronicles website the week of her passing into history:
"Mrs. Burns shied away from Bay Area society circles.She talked plainly and dressed casually. She served on the board of the Sequoia Hospital Foundation, and donated to the charity’s gala in 2007 a collection of signed baseballs. She was a board member of the Giants Community Fund. Following the tradition of her husband, Mrs. Burns co-hosted parties for the coaches and management staff in San Francisco and at spring training in Scottsdale."
And in the picture just to the right of her, is embattled billionaire owner Frank McCourt around the time he fired his wife–via text message. Here is the latest from freaksville about the Dodgers ownership written up by who else; the Big Disney Sports Leader itself:
"Today, what began as boardroom and bedroom bickering has become tabloid fodder in LA. Details of their spat, once the domain of baseball blogs and Twitter feeds, now rival the latest nuttiness from Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson for splashy headlines in the Los Angeles Times. The McCourts came to Hollywood expecting star treatment. They just didn’t expect to star in a reality show about their crumbling marriage. Once the divorce trial begins, on Aug. 30, sordid details of their troubles will likely be aired coast-to-coast."
Frank McCourt litigated and leveraged a Boston parking lot into the Dodgers. Mainly by suing people: "To understand who Frank is you have to realize he’s not a developer, he’s a litigator," says a former business associate who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearful Frank might sue him."
Perspective And Proportion
So here we are, the third day of August, 2010. McCourt and his estranged spouse, have turned control over the Dodgers into "Celebrity Divorce Deathmatch". In three weeks the Dodgers ownership is heading to family court to air their underwear, character defects, pettiness, grandstanding, and narcissistic attention-whoring and insatiable need for multiple unoccupied mansions, automobiles and tons of other "stuff".
And despite Ted Lilly retiring 20 consecutive Padres last night to help the Giants gain even more ground in their quest for their first division title in 7 years, the Dodgers and their ownership are going nowhere this year. Except the front pages of TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, and David Letterman punchlines while keeping company in the tabloids with the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, San Fernando Valley porn queens, and the demise of USC football. Could it happen to nicer folks?
Culture and Values Clash – Morality Play
This is more than a difference between two franchises. It is more than the rivalry that existed between two old Irish families, the Stonehams and the O’Malleys of the last century. It is a clash of cultures and values, that has nothing to do with the game itself. It is as if Baseball-LA Style, was some sort of reality show to be thrown against the ratings wall of Springer, Big Brother, Maury Povich, and any other number of nit-witted, hedonistic, numskull television shows.
Vinny – Even Purgatory Has Its Saints
There is one shining beam of light however. Vin Scully. His non-call of Kirk Gibson’s off-balance, backhand walk-off homerun in the 1988 World Series was elegance, style and class personified. People around here like to tout Jon Miller. Well, Jon is a good company man, and has a light-hearted approach to the game, but he seems to get more full of himself with each passing season. Scully is his own man. I think to Scully, baseball and the Dodgers are just a never ending story that he updates on a daily basis. To him, baseball is not war nor crisis management, but rather the longest-running human interest play in the history of mankind.
In fifty years, when the McCourts are dead and gone, and forgotten but for a blast or two on the internet, kids being born today will know and appreciate Vin Scully as not only the voice, but one of the most important faces of the franchise as well. While Lasorda is always booed, though he’s been retired for years, San Francisco Giants fans who’ve been around for awhile, love Vin Scully. Because he’s a fan of the game, a fan of the players, and he genuinely respects all fans, and because he is a great story teller. And last, but not necessarily least, he knows when not to talk. Which is often. Only a man comfortable in his own skin can do that. And Vin Scully is certainly that.
The Fat Lady Has Arrived At The Stage Door
So while the Dodgers have made a mockery of the Giants in the standings the last few seasons, the worm appears to have turned. At least for the past several weeks. The Giants are in better shape on the field than the Dodgers, and certainly in the front office, to say nothing of maintaining one’s dignity. So while the spoiled and pompous McCourts tear each other apart in petty, though expensive judicial proceedings, to the amusement of the paparazzi, gawkers, and other losers whose only relief from a dreary existence is the voyeuristic pleasures that comes from watching rich creatures worse off then themselves; the Giants, their families and followers are enjoying an amazing summer of hard-won achievement and a run at the NL pennant by the boys in orange and black.
Sue and Harmon Burns would have been very proud.